To define curriculum leadership, one should first have a working definition of curriculum. According to Marsh and Willis (2007), curriculum is usually regarded to mean a program of instruction at a school including both the planned and unplanned events in the classroom (pp.16, 375). Curriculum has three basic focal points: the nature of the individual, the nature society, and the nature of a subject (P. Brown, CIED 5053 lecture notes, August 28, 2006).
Looking at these definitions, one could come up with several different meanings for curriculum leadership. A curriculum leader could be the principal at a school who guides the teaching and learning at his or her school or could be the department head that plans the course of study for a subject. A curriculum leader could be the curriculum director in a district who guides the teaching and learning within a school district by defining the district’s educational goals, learning objectives and curriculum taught to students. Curriculum leaders provide the vision for the teaching and learning that takes place within a school or district. As lifelong learners, they seek professional development opportunities and are knowledgeable of current trends in curriculum and education with the goal of improving student learning in mind. Curriculum leaders also plan and create professional development opportunities providing teachers opportunities to improve their teaching practice and knowledge, whether this is through activities such as study groups, book studies, daylong events, or ongoing professional development covering a certain area such as math or reading curriculum.
On a larger level, curriculum leaders are people who theorize about how students learn, how student learning and schools influence society, and how to best instruct students. This type of curriculum leader has guided the history of education in the United States.
One curriculum leader who has made a significant impact on education is psychologist and philosopher John Dewey. John Dewey lived in late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. In 1894, Dewey joined the faculty of the University of Chicago. Part of the Progressive Education movement, Dewey advocated a more child-centered education (P. Brown, CIED5053 lecture notes, September 13, 2006) in which the student’s knowledge presented the educator the source for all education (Dewey, 1929/2004, p.17). This idea links Dewey to Constructivist learning theory where the teacher fosters the child’s ideas about what to study and how to study it and where meaning is constructed by the learner (Marsh and Willis, 2007, p. 375).
John Dewey defined curriculum as the individual’s experience with their surroundings, which should lead to an increase the quality of the individual’s experience. In his 1902 book The Child and the Curriculum, Dewey expressed the idea that “curriculum is the sum of the meanings students experience as they engage in the activities of schools…both...